A team of modern day scholars believe the works of the ancient philosophers may hold water.
For thousands of years, the devout faithful have been willing to sacrifice their mortal lives, firmly believing in everlasting life through spiritual means. There have, however, also always been those who do not believe, or who can’t bring themselves to take the leap of faith when faced with the question: Does the human soul exist?
It is a question as old as formalized religion and one that has tested the scientific community for hundreds of years, but now, an Ivy-League neuroscientist and a team of his colleagues are attempting to answer this question, and prove that the soul is not just a hypothetical theory, but rather a scientific concept.
Michael A. Ferguson, Ph.D., explains that he and his team were studying the architectural decomposition of the human brain’s functional patterns when he was struck by a correlation between the observed data and the philosophical works of Aristotle on the human soul.
“Aristotle identifies sensory faculties in the human soul giving rise to memory and imagination, which give rise to intellective faculties, which in turn exercise top-down control on appetitive faculties. The precise one-to-one correlations between our set of connectome components and Aristotle’s set of soul faculties struck me like a lightning bolt. “The Philosopher’s model of a sensitive to imaginative to intellective functional axis is exactly what we had seen in our neurobiological solution of primary sensory network, default mode network, and intelligence network configurations. I couldn’t help but ask, what else did he get right?”
In order to make a formal argument for the existence of the soul, Ferguson has brought together a team of educators and researchers in the fields of medicine, neuroscience, philosophy, and art. They will present their findings to a live audience at The Joseph B. Martin Conference Center at Harvard Medical School on August 3, 2019. More information, as well as study material, can be found on the team’s website, Soul and Brain.
Dr. Ferguson and his team believe the event will begin an important dialogue, which will in turn spur fruitful research on the matter. Ferguson specifies:
“My hypothesis is that principles of transcendental realism — beauty, justice, truth, goodness — are not merely sea foam floating on top of the sea, but are in fact sources of the lunar gravity, as it were, that cause the waves and the tides themselves. If this is indeed the case, i.e., that transcendental principles exert a sort of evolutionary gravity that is expressed in the form and function of our human neurophysiology, then the human organism may justifiably be identified as a spiritually-ensouled species.”
Ferguson has already garnered attention with his TEDx Talk, “Your Brain on God,” provided below. In it he analyzed the brains of believers as they prayed, listened to religious instruction, and were exposed to faith images. His talk is concise and to the point, with a little humor thrown in.
If you’re interested in attending the August 3 presentation, you can reserve your tickets here.